Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Energizing Time

[Posted by reader_iam]

I think Steve at Hog On Ice puts in perspective the discovery of a "petroleum pool deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico that could boost the nation's reserves by more than 50 percent:
It will take a few years for the new oil to get into our gas tanks, but it will be soon enough to be very helpful. I just hope this discovery, and others that are sure to follow, will be big enough to ease the worldwide crisis and buy us time to develop better energy sources. Like NUCLEAR POWER. The long-awaited panacea that we discovered about seventy years ago.

From the Bismarck Tribune article:
A test well indicates it could be the biggest new domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay a generation ago. But the vast oil deposit roughly four miles beneath the ocean floor won't significantly reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil and it won't help lower prices at the pump anytime soon, analysts said.

"It's a nice positive, but the U.S. still has a big difference between its consumption and indigenous production," said Art Smith, chief executive of energy consultant John S. Herold. "We'll still be importing more than 50 percent of our oil needs."

Chevron on Tuesday estimated the 300-square-mile region where its test well sits could hold between 3 billion and 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas liquids. The U.S. consumes roughly 5.7 billion barrels of crude-oil in a year.

It will take many years and tens of billions of dollars to bring the newly tapped oil to market, but the discovery carries particular importance for the industry at a time when Western oil and gas companies are finding fewer opportunities in politically unstable parts of the world, including the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

This is good news, in a number of ways--but there's a clear downside to the discovery if it leads us to into complacency and passive buck-passing (to future generations) of the necessity to deal with the broader energy picture.

So sure: Celebrate a bit. But on the morning after, we have to make sure there's enough clear eyes to pursue the comprehensive energy policy that's still needed--including research and development of alternative sources.

Found time--if indeed this turns out to be that--is a rare, rare thing indeed. I hope we don't waste it.

(Btw, I'm not intending on developing an energy meme here. Sometimes the chips just fall that way, on the random byway that is the blogosphere.)